By: Saad Ejaz

Celebrating its third year, the McMaster Water Week, featuring a number of lectures, a career fair, a documentary screening and student research showcase, has come to an end.

McMaster Water Week is a celebration of water and water-related research at McMaster University and around the world. A wide-ranging network of researchers, faculty members, students and community members came together to have an interdisciplinary discussion approaching water from different sides.

Sherry Du, the Chair of the McMaster Water Network Student Chapter emphasizes the unique nature of the McMaster Water Week.

“It is really unique because it is an interdisciplinary discussion and you’re approaching water from all dimensions… that in itself is a tremendous learning opportunity because it is not very often you get that type of experience to discuss and chat with so many diverse people with a common interest,” said Du.

The events fostered a number of discussions around the understanding, prediction and mitigation of water issues in the future. This included a tour of Professor Paulin Coulibaly’s lab at the university. His lab demonstrated the type of modeling systems used to predict flooding and how they can mitigate the disastrous nature of floods.

“We have gotten a good mix of students, faculty members and community members. We are really lucky in that way to engage a broad audience–everyone is interested in water as it is a pressing issue” said Du.

The main event at McMaster Water Week included a screening of a documentary called Project: Ice by an award winning American film director and executive producer, William Kleinert.

The documentary intends to reveal the story of the Great Lakes through the prism of ice from the crossroads of history, science and climate change. It intends to clear the misconception of the climate change solely in the polar regions and shifts its focus to the center of North America with 40 million Canadians and Americans in the Great Lakes basin.

Kleinert emphasizes the importance of science and research communication.

“It really is no longer good enough to just be in the lab or out there doing significant field work. You got to put a human face on it and help people understand why it is important to their lives and quality of life,” said Kleinert.

The McMaster Water Week fostered dialogue and discussion pertaining to water and water-related endeavours at McMaster University and around the world. A sounds number of researchers, faculty members, students and community members came together and discussed the topic of water in light of making a positive difference.

McMaster Water Week was a great success, according to Du.

“Its been wonderful for McMaster Water Network Student Chapter to have the opportunity to plan a university- wide event that lasted a week. It was the work of a lot students and a massive amount of team work…it was something we did with great pleasure – to be able to share and celebrate water with our community.”

YOUSIF HADDAD / SILHOUETTE STAFF

Cassandra Jeffery 

Assistant InsideOut Editor

The startling documentary Blue Gold was screened on the McMaster campus on March 5 as an attempt to spark the interest of our student body on world water crises.

The first official event of McMaster’s Water Awareness Week (WAW) was followed by a discussion period by representatives of a number of student-run organizations, including Hamilton Students for Social Justice, Global Citizenship Planning Committee, Paws@Mac and the McMaster Water Initiative.

The documentary Blue Gold illustrated the horrible reality of the globe’s corrupt water industries. Water, a basic human necessity, is stripped away from those who need it most, privatized by large corporations and re-distributed at crippling prices.

Globally, Canada is a privileged country, yet along with privilege and a bountiful supply of fresh water we have become blind to the hardships others must endure just to have safe drinking water.

Justine Schultes and her fellow committee members have rallied together in order to bring water awareness to Mac students and initiate a number of green movements, such as wise water use, the banning of plastic bottles on campus and in the public sphere, steps to recycling smart and the reorganization of Hamilton as a Blue Community. McMaster’s WAW offers a series of seminars, lectures and presentations in order to educate students on the global, national and provincial water discrepancies.

“It is vitally important that we as the next generation recognize the issues surrounding access to freshwater worldwide and how here in Canada we may be impacted by the strain on the world’s fresh water resources,” says Schultes.

Although the water crisis falls into the hands of everyone, it’s the younger and future generations who will have to pay the consequences if this issue is not treated as priority.

“We need to recognize water as a human right,” states Schultes. Aside from a human’s vital need for water, our agricultural and fragile ecosystems also require uncontaminated water in order survive and ultimately sustain our lifestyle. If we can recognize water as a basic human need, then, ideally, it would be impossible to ignore such a fundamental human right.

The WAW event on March 6 was the “Blue Community Workshop,” held open to Mac students who wished to participate in an informal discussion on the water systems in the Hamilton area.

Various issues were raised, such as the need for greater stringencies to be placed on our recycling system. Students often do not take the time to properly recycle, which includes rinsing and drying any recyclable material thrown into the blue bin. Often, this ignorance leads to contamination of the entire unit of recyclables, meaning that most of it is thrown out as waste.

Another issue raised in the WAW event was the need for communication between the Canadian government and our citizens. Schultes and her committee facilitate discussion around the need for transparency in our governmental affairs, especially when dealing with our water supply.

“A lot of things are being done to our water systems without our knowledge,” says Schultes. For example, the government has been discussing the draining of Canadian lakes to facilitate corporate use, and the CETA trade bill in the works will allow the European Union to utilize our fresh water supply as they wish. Schultes suggests that we need to implement a national policy and have the same water legislations for all provinces.

Water Awareness week will conclude on Saturday, March 10 with a discussion panel at the Global Citizenship Conference.

Prior to this date, several events will be held as a way to bring the global and national water crises to the forefront of student politics. If interested, students can check out dates and times via the Facebook page of Water Awareness Week 2012, McMaster University.

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